About the study

Bhagavad-gītā (BhG) in this presentation is prepared on the basis of the Mahābhārata (Mbh) critical edition[1]. Textual variants are taken from the footnotes below the text of critical edition, if not, they are indicated. The reader may refer to the footnotes to find what manuscript the variant comes from.

Invocation comprising of the rituals that prepare one to the reading of the text, is found in: Appendix I, pp. 711-712 of the Mbh critical edition. It can also be found in the presentation of critical edition, included by: Muneo Tokunaga, revised by John Smith, Cambridge – text available at: www.sub.uni-goettingen.de/ebene_1/fiindolo/gretil.htm.

The aim of this presentation is to bring the reader closer to the original text of BhG. It can serve the students of Sanskrit to read the text without using dictionaries or grammar manuals or could be used by interested scholars who do not know Sanskrit to understand better the nature of this piece of literature. Such presentation of BhG is not something new, there were a few such works in English. One is the work of Winthop Sargeant[2] – on each page there is a column with one verse divided into one-fourths (pada) along with their translations and a column with grammar analysis of the words; at the end the author gives translation of the full verse. Another work is Sanskrit Bhagavad-gita Grammar[3]. In volume 3 the BhG text is given with extensive grammar exlanations, simplified syntax analysis and Śrīdhara’s commentary written without saṁdhi. From that presentation we have taken the simple system of digits for grammatical cases, persons and numbers, which appears to be easy to apply and memorize, so it is worth recommending.

In this presentation more emphasis is put on the methods of reading the text according to the Indian tradition. At the beginning the verse is changed into a regular prose structure (anvaya). Anvaya follows the grammatical analysis prepared by Bhakti-sudhā-kara, which is included in Bengali edition of BhG along with the commentary of Śrīdhara Swami[4]. However our anvaya is not copied faithfully, sometimes there are changes so that the structure was always according to the pattern. Occasionally there are additional words in square brackets which are omitted in the verse. Following the Bengali edition there are translation of words in brackets so the reader could read Sanskrit text or focus on its English translation to try to get the meaning of the whole sentence.

For quick recognition the words are typed specifically: the subject group is in bold type, verbs (also past participles and infinitives) are underlined, and the object group is typed grey. In grammar analysis the emphasis is on compounds (samāsa), which are explained according to the scheme use by Indian grammarians, shown below. Such practice helps the beginning student to understand the nature of these often used structures in Sanskrit. The compounds are given in a simple way with all inflected suffixes to help understand their meaning.

Rules of syntax order (anvaya):
1. subject group (kartṛ),
2. object group (karman),
3. verb (kriyā).
If the sentence covers more than one verse, the verses are grouped together to form the full sentence. In syntax order the logical subject in taken into account, so in the passive voice the instrumental stands at the beginning. If there are adverbial phrases of time or place, they occur at the beginning. Defining words are followed by those defined (beginning with pronouns).

Syntax analysis is followed by grammar analysis of all given words and compounds. We applied the simplified division of compounds into four groups: tat-puruṣa, bahu-vrīhi, karma-dhāra and dvandva.

In the analysis of nominals the following data are given: the base form, case and number in digits, gender. If possible, at the end in bracket there is a verbal root from which the word is formed, e.g.:

rājā rājan 1n.1 m.ruler (from: raj – to rule);

In the analysis of participles and other verbal forms there is always a verbal root in brackets, even if their meaning in use goes beyond the meaning of the original roots, which happens often with future participles (śiṣya – to be taught), e.g.:

śiṣyeṇa śiṣya (śās – to teach) PF 3n.1 m.by a disciple;


yuyutsum yuyutsu (yudh – to fight) des. 2n.1 m.; yoddhum icchantamdesiring to fight;

For the verb the following data are given: the root, person and number in digits, other information as: causative, passive etc., e.g.:

abhyahanyanta abhi-han (to strike) Imperf. pass. 1v.3they were stroken;

While explaining compounds we applied the following pattern:

1. tat-puruṣa: the first element of compound is in an appropriate case, the second in the case appearing in the verse, then “iti” after which should be the whole compound as found in the verse, which we omit to make it short, e.g.:

pāṇḍu-putrāṇām pāṇḍu-putra 6n.3 m.; TP: pāṇḍoḥ putrā itiof the sons of Pāṇḍu;

2. bahu-vrīhi: first comes the relative pronoun (yad – which, who) in an appropriate case (yasya, yeṣām – of which, of those which etc.), then the thing or quality possessed and its adjective, at the end there is a demonstrative pronoun in an appropriate case (saḥ, te – he, they etc.). After that should be the whole compound as found in the verse, which we omit to make it short, e.g.:

bhīma-karmā bhīma-karman 1n.1 m.; BV: yasya karmāṇi bhīmāṇi santi sahe whose activities are terrible;

3. karma-dhāra: first comes the defined word, then after the phrase “ca asau” the word defining it, and then “ca”. The whole expression could be translated as: “and it is…, and this is [also]…”, e.g.:

mahā-śaṅkham mahā-śaṅkha 2n.1 m.great conchshell (KD: śaṅkhaś cāsau mahān ca – and it is a conchshell, and it is great);

4. dvandva: after each element there is a conjunction “ca” (and): “and this, and this” e.g.:

sughoṣa-maṇi-puṣpakau su-ghoṣa-maṇi-puṣpaka 2n.2 m.; DV: su-ghoṣaṃ ca maṇi-puṣpakaṃ ca itiExcellent Sound and Jewel-flower;

[1] The Mahābhārata, sixth book: Bhīṣmaparvan, edited by: Krishna Belvalkar, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona 1947.

[2] Sargeant, Winthrop, The Bhagavad Gita. State University of New York Press, New York 1994.

[3] Sanskrit Bhagavad-gita Grammar, vol. 3. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Language School, Ras Bihari Lal & Sons, Vrindavan 2005.

[4] Śrīmad-Bhagavad-gītā, (Bengali script) commentary of: Śrīdhara Svāmipāda “Subodhinī”, Bengali translation: Nārāyaṇa-dāsa Bhakti-sudhā-kara, Gaudīya mission Kolkata 1996 r.